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Should You Hire a Private School Admissions Consultant?

I am an admissions consultant, so, admittedly, my opinion on this subject might be a bit skewed. But if it is, it is based less on a desire to promote my business than on the actual value that professional admission consulting can have on a student’s admission success and state of mind. The simplest way I can make this case is by offering a comparison. Almost everyone sees the value of ISEE or SSAT test preparation. You might be able to get into a good private school with good test scores, but you are much more likely to get into a great private school with great test scores. Professional assistance helps. And the admission process is far more complex than merely preparing for a test. All in all, there are approximately 20 components that factor into private school acceptance, from identifying a personalized school list to writing essays that have the intended effect on admissions officers. Each of these 20 factors can be as important as test scores when applying to highly competitive private schools. Competition for spots at these schools is fierce, and working with a consultant can give you a much-needed advantage.

More families apply to the brand-name schools than to lesser-known schools. For example, Phillips Academy in Andover Massachusetts receives more than 2500 applications each year. From those, it admits about 350 students. St. Paul‘s School in Concord, New Hampshire, an all boarding school, receives 1400 applications per year and accepts about 150 students. The Groton School in Massachusetts receives around 1300 applications per year and accepts approximately 12% of those. A successful admission campaign for an elite private school can be challenging, but there are multiple pathways to acceptance, from stellar academics and test scores to extraordinary talent and more. By working with a consultant, you can ensure that your child’s case for admission will be as strong as possible.

Typically, all components of private school applications must be submitted by the application deadline. These include school tours, tests, interviews, parent and student essays, personal statements, and recommendations. Some school require graded papers, athletic portfolios and videos, artistic portfolios, and performance videos as well. In some cases, schools will allow you to send scores and recommendations after the deadline has passed. Also, interviews may occur after an application has been received. A consultant will help families sort through each school’s requirements and keeps you on track for a timely and effective submission of all applications.

Families who are applying to many private schools will be required to submit their applications using one, two or even all three of the application portals: Gateway to Prep Schools, Ravenna, and Standard Application Online (SAO). In addition, some schools use their own applications. Each application requires multiple essays, in many cases from both parents and students. Consultants may help students and parents alike with essays, personal interviews, visits, recommendations, and everything else associated with private school applications. See below for details. They can often arrange test prep tutors for SSAT, ISEE, and TOEFL.

The private school application process can be quite a stress inducing experience for families, and yet it should be an exciting time! Even if you could figure out all aspects of the admission process in time for applications to be filled out and submitted, chances are you would have missed out on one, or numerous, opportunities that would have significantly strengthened the student’s application. We hope you will take our advice and get assistance from a highly qualified private school consultant. The difference it can make can be profound, both in terms of its likelihood of success and in maintaining a positive, stress-free relationship with your child.